The University of Massachusetts Boston is nationally recognized as a model of excellence among urban public research universities. Located on Boston Harbor, it is the metropolitan area’s only public research university. UMass Boston’s most distinguished intellectual contributions are in the social sciences, education, health and wellness, and the exact sciences, with faculty earning national and international recognition in biology; environmental, earth, and ocean sciences; cancer research; brain sciences; green chemistry; and disability studies. The university’s innovative projects and programs consistently involve multiple disciplines. Among the newest initiatives are the Center for Governance and Sustainability, the Center for Personalized Cancer Therapy, the School for Global Inclusion and Social Development, and the School for the Environment. Its College of Nursing and Health Sciences is ranked among the top five percent of the nation's graduate nursing programs.

UMass Boston attracts a diverse population, with a little under 13,000 undergraduates and nearly 4,100 graduate students currently enrolled. These students have roots in more than 140 countries and speak more than 90 different languages. Many are of modest-income backgrounds and are first-generation college students. They benefit from the campus's urban location that provides a wealth of experiential and career opportunities.

In 2014, UMass Boston celebrated its 50th anniversary — and a half-century of commitment to providing superior education, standing with and serving Massachusetts’ capital city, and making a difference. Its faculty members, who represent diverse academic and cultural backgrounds, pursue deeply engaged teaching and research, conducting more than $62 million in research expenditures annually, with major areas of focus in urban health and public policy, science and math education, learning research, computational sciences, analysis and modeling, and transnational cultural and community studies.